2019 was defined by G2 and Fnatic. Will 2020 see a new king claim the crown?
The LEC had quite the Summer Split. G2 Esports and Fnatic failed to challenge the top spot, with the sides ending the split 3rd and 4th respectively. Rogue placed first in the regular season meaning regardless of playoff result they will make Worlds via the play-in stage. Round one of the matches sees SK Gaming (“SK”) take on Schalke 04 (“S04”), G2 Esports (“G2”) take on MAD Lions (“MAD”) and Rogue (“RGE”) take on Fnatic (“FNC”).
SK Gaming v Schalke 04
SK was the side we put into 6th in our Power Rankings during the mid-split, though we also put S04 last, so take it with a pinch of salt. While the team started off Summer Split strong we always thought they’d fall off slightly as FNC and G2 surged. With SK ending 5th, it looks like the steam did dissipate. SK will now find themselves in an awkward position of playing against S04 and their #MiracleRun. It’s also important to note that this is the only series of the weekend that will see the loser eliminated from playoffs.
The other unfortunate backdrop for SK is that jungler Kim “Trick” Gang-yun cannot go to Worlds due to a passport issue if his side makes it that far. As of now we still don’t have official word on the situation so Trick will likely still play. S04 is on an incredible run right now and momentum is with them. Keeping it going during a Bo5 is going to be tricky, however, we think SK is ripe for the picking. We think it will have a huge impact on the team, which is why we think S04 will take the series 3-1.
G2 Esports v MAD Lions
G2 had a rough start to Summer Split. Struggling to find any kind of form the side at one point not even looking like a side in playoff contention. However, the mid-season break seemed to help and G2 started to pick up results when it mattered. They go into playoffs as the 3rd seed and have been handed the series against MAD after RGE chose to play FNC.
With a 1-1 record between the two sides in Summer Split it should be a nailbiter of a series. However, it’s worth remembering that back in spring MAD was able to best G2 in a Bo5 so MAD will be looking to inflict a second Bo5 defeat to G2. The series is going to come down to who adapts to the meta quickest, as this will only be the second EU series played on patch 10.16. With G2’s experience, we think they’ll just take it in a close 3-2 series with G2 likely to pull out a pocket pick if things get tight at 2-2 at any point.
Rogue v Fnatic
RGE comes into this series full of confidence, though the prospect of selecting FNC as your preferred opponent probably wasn’t in their dream scenario. They play a FNC side that appears to lack identity and leadership, however, and doesn't look like the FNC side we’re used to seeing. FNC had a 2-1 final week, picking up key victories against XL and SK. But their loss to S04 shows that work still needs to be done if FNC is to make it to Worlds, let alone compete.
This series should be the game of the week on paper. RGE comes into the series as favorites, with mid-laner Larssen being a catalyst for the side's exceptional play. He might come up against a very low confidence mid-laner in Nemesis on the FNC side. RGE is a side that has likes to play it slow and methodical, dictating the play and closing out games. FNC has always been more aggressive and in your face, trying to dictate play early and snowball a lead. The two styles are in complete conflict. However. FNC relies much more on communication to make their strategy work, something they’ve badly lacked in Summer Split. We give the series to RGE 3-1.
We’ll have match reports for each of these series after they happen. We’ll also be back for another preview in round two.